The theme of the Finland100 independence centenary celebrations this year is ‘Together’, a spirit embodied by the trainees on board Merisusi. The vessel is one of seven in the Tall Ships Races 2017 operated by the Finnish Sea Scouts, an organisation also celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2017.
The skipper of Merisusi, Antti Valtola, was also in Kotka 25 years ago when the Tall Ships Races first came to the city, on the organisation’s previous boat with the same name.
“I was here 25 years ago and it’s great to be back. The Finnish Sea Scouts are celebrating 100 years this year and we’re looking forward to the Cruise-in-Company to our home port of Turku and then taking part in Race 2 from Turku to Klaipeda,” Valtola said.
Oliver Backlund, 16, is one of three trainees aged between 16 and 24 on board for the passage to Turku. He said he was “excited to take part” after going to see the Tall Ships in Turku with his dad when he was younger and sailing with the Sea Scouts since he was seven years old.
“Sailing has its own challenges and it’s a great experience,” he said, adding that the voyage will be his longest to date.
Excitement builds in KOTKA
There is an atmosphere of excited anticipation in Kotka as vessels continue to arrive ahead of the start of the official programme of port events tomorrow afternoon.
“The City of Kotka is absolutely delighted to welcome the Tall Ships Fleet to our city. We are hosting the event at our old port and the ship crews, citizens of Kotka and thousands of visitors are jointly creating a unique atmosphere for a wonderful weekend,” Antti Karjalainen, City of Kotka Culture Director, said.
Taking part ‘changes world view’
Elisaveta Sinitcina, 19, a first-year student at the Admiral Makarov State University of Maritime and Inland Shipping in St Petersburg, was one of the trainees on board the Russian vessel Akela for Race 1 from Halmstad to Kotka. It was the first time she’d taken part in a Tall Ships event.
“Participation in regattas can change your world view and mind, and it feels like I became another person. We have learned to work in team and to help each other. During the regatta all of us have made friends and became a small family,” Elisaveta said.
About the Tall Ships Races 2017
The Tall Ships Races 2017 is taking place in four different countries and five ports, with three exciting race legs across the Baltic Sea and a spectacular Cruise-in-Company. The event has attracted an incredible fleet of more than 100 vessels, and participation from an awesome number of trainees from around the world. There are trainee places available on each of the race legs and the Cruise-in-Company – book your place directly with a participating vessel.
Get on board for the adventure of a lifetime
Want to get involved with the Tall Ships Races 2017? There are still berths available – secure your place today! Check out our event page for more information. Book your place directly with a participating vessel.
Photo: The crew of Merisusi operated by the Finnish Sea Scouts who are preparing to take part in the Cruise-in-Company from Kotka into their home port of Turku.